RNC warns presidential debate organizer over fundraising language

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is warning the group responsible for organizing presidential debates against fundraising off the idea that the next GOP nominee will participate in the 2024 debates.

The RNC has already threatened to change its rules to prohibit its presidential nominees from taking part in any of the debates organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), echoing former President Trump’s accusations of anti-Republican bias against the group.

In a letter to the commission dated Feb. 25, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said that the party had already begun moving forward with the proposed rule change and demanded that the commission avoid telling or implying to potential donors and partners that the 2024 debates will feature the yet-to-be-determined nominee. 

“I expect this language to pass overwhelmingly,” McDaniel wrote, referring to the proposed change barring the nominee from the debates. “Accordingly, the Commission on Presidential Debates should refrain from representing to its donors and potential partners that the Republican presidential nominee will participate in any CPD-sponsored debates in the 2024 presidential cycle.”

McDaniel’s letter was first reported on Thursday by The Wall Street Journal.

The CPD did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letter. But the commission’s co-chair, Frank Fahrenkopf, who is also a former RNC chair, told the Journal in an interview that he did not expect the GOP’s threat to hurt the commission’s fundraising. 

“We don’t sell ourselves to anyone,” Fahrenkopf told the Journal. “We don’t have anything to do with political parties. We deal with the candidates once they reach the threshold.”

While politicians from both parties have complained occasionally about the commission’s handling of debates, Republican criticism of the group has only increased since Trump became the party’s nominee in 2016. 

The former president repeatedly complained about the commission’s leadership, scheduling decisions and choices of moderators. During his 2020 reelection bid, he withdrew from the second scheduled debate against now-President Biden after the commission decided to switch to a virtual format amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Even if the RNC moves to change its rules regarding the CPD, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that the 2024 nominee won’t participate in the debates. The party could always change its rules again, and the eventual nominee will likely have the ultimate say on whether to participate.

Tags 2024 2024 election 2024 elections Commission On Presidential Debates CPD Donald Trump Joe Biden Presidential debates Republican National Committee RNC Ronna McDaniel
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